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Video:How to Keep a Germ-Free Home

with Jonathon E. Stewart

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to live in a germ-free home. These steps provide excellent ideas for creating a germ-free home for you and your family.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Keep a Germ-Free Home

There's nothing worse than coming down with the season's latest cold, flu, or other bug –– except, maybe, your whole household having to call in sick.  But making just a few adjustments to your cleaning routines can make your house an inhospitable place for bad bacteria and viruses.

Obstacles for a Germ-Free Home

Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact, and some of these germs can live on surfaces for up to several weeks before invading your system and getting you sick.  But before you grab a commercial cleaner and scour your whole house, consider that many of these contain chemicals and other ingredients that can also be hazardous to your health.

Especially if you have kids in the house who might be prone to licking things like, say, the floor, it's probably a good idea to go the non-toxic route on this one.

Ideas for Keeping a Germ-Free Home

White vinegar is a fantastic all-natural cleaner that's completely safe for human consumption.  Its acidic content kills up to 90% of household bacteria and 80% of the mold and viruses you're likely to encounter.  Dilute with an equal amount of plain tap water, and you've got a great all-purpose solution that can be used on just about any surface.  Floors, counter tops, sinks, faucets, toilets, handles, doorknobs, cutting boards, trash cans, telephones, and pet litter boxes are all fair game.

While the smell always reminds me of those youthful carny days filled with french fries and melancholy clowns, remember that as soon as the vinegar evaporates, so will its smell.  For the most part.

In addition to keeping all of the surfaces in your home clean, make sure to wash your own hands as a regular habit.  Experts suggest that you should rub them vigorously with antibacterial soap and rinse under hot water for longer than you might think, about as long as it takes to sing the ABCs song, or Happy Birthday.

Or the theme song from Jeopardy, or even the first two verses of Ice Ice Baby.  Don't forget to change your towels and linens often and, if you have kids in the germ farm––I mean school or daycare––definitely include them in the washing up routine as soon as they come home.

Avoid eating or drinking directly from containers in your refrigerator, and make sure to prepare cooked foods at temperatures high enough to kill any bacteria they might contain.  Be sure that any insect or rodent infestation is dealt with quickly and thoroughly, as these critters often spread germs that are harmful to humans.

Of course, making sure that you and your family exercise regularly, eat well, get plenty of rest and avoid smoking, will significantly increase your odds of beating seasonal illness, too.  Not to mention cancer, heart disease, and a million other things your body, and your grandkids, will thank you for later.

I'm Jonathon Stewart with About.com.
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